All about FASTAG
What is FASTAG. Fastag is an electronic toll payment & collection system launched by government of India for convenience. This is a very old concept that is used in foreign countries from the 90s.
Common cheating / tricks / scams at toll plaza - when paid in cash
The Chips/Chocolate change scam: If and when you pay cash to the toll operator, there is a fair chance, you will be given chips / fried items / chocolates in lieu of change. Let's say toll is 42/- and you hand over Rs. 100/- currency note to toll operator. The operator will return you a RS 50/- currency note & a packet of chips. In reality, I might not want that chips or i might not be even a chips eater & finally that chips packet may be worth only Rs. 5/- . You are scammed.
The short-change change scam: If there is a queue or the driver appears to be a "dude" , the toll operator will take a chance and give you lesser change than he is expected to give. If he cheats 1 or 2 rupees per car, imagine how many crores of black money they make in a year. More relevantly, you lose your hard earned money,
The Pre-fastag Scenario:
Before fastag was introduced, we would have seen massive queue at the toll plazas. This causes inconvenience to people and also isn't the most efficient process. This used to cause lot of idle time, fuel wastage and more specifically delay in time bound cargo shipments. The major factor was unaccountability of money as the only option was to pay cash. This is the reason, Govt decided to make toll-payment as electronic. Fastag is an established system in developed countries from the nineties, so it was a no brainer to copy the same system.
Problems faced during pre-fastag scenario:
Higher Fuel consumption of vehicles
Increased wait time / idle time
Time bound delivery of cargo & perishable items were challenged.
Chances of scams & an easy way to siphon off money to black market.
Maintaining and catering change to each and every vehicle was an issue.
Security risk, as you would need to roll down windows, exposing your car interior & occupants. This is a possible chance of theft or misbehaviour.
Advantages of Fastag:
Practically zero wait time
No need to carry change.
Chips & chocolates as change can be avoided
Privacy is maintained as we needn't lower the glass
Facilitates easier money consolidation and accounting, lesser chances of scams & black money making.
"Prepaid" , so toll operators are guaranteed the money when you use.
Reduces carbon levels.
How does Fastag work:
Fastag is a prepaid card that you need to purchase initially & keep recharging based on usage. The radio-frequency tag on the sticker is scanned by a RF reader at the toll-booth. The reader checks your tag against a database, which tells the system whether your tag is valid or invalid. If valid, it will allow you to proceed, else you would be expected to pay the toll in cash and then proceed. It works exactly same as a prepaid mobile phone connection,
How to buy one:
Almost all banks & money wallet players are in the fastag game. HDFC, ICICI, KVB, SBI are some banks & even Paytm, Airtel, Amazon are having their own fastag. You may either approach your dealer or even buy independently from any of the direct sources. Just keep in mind to avoid middlemen, who tend to play foul.
Why are so many companies having fastag:
Answer is simple - They make fast money with no risk. They take a fee for issuance, which is a huge profit for them, they also hold a security of minimum 200/- , they take money as convenience / inconvenience fee for every recharge and they are also paid a transaction fee for every toll payment made. This is really a money spinner for them. There is zero risk for the players, as it is prepaid card & they needn't invest money first, unlike credit card.
How dealers cheat you on Fastag
Lump-sum amount Scam: Dealers often mention the fastag amount as a lumpsum say 600/-. Do ask for the split of charges and get it written. There are three charges as listed below
Basic Issuance Fee: Rs 50/- to100/- including taxes
Security / Caution Deposit: Rs 150 to 200/- including taxes
Amount loaded into card: Rs 200/- to300/-
Once you have received your fastag, check with the customer care of your fastag provider on whether the amount matches with that of what the dealer has given you. May times, the dealer takes additional money or doesn't load the money amounting to to what was collected from you. Dealers get a fat commission from the provider for selling their fastag.
Fastag milking customers - TNOC's Special analysis
Is Fastag straight-forward?: Trust me when i say this, Fastag is a business opportunity and in reality no one cares how much the customer is benefit. Do you know that Fastag is a money spinner?
Almost 80% of the customers will never surrender their fastag, so the security deposit amount is free money for the provider.
There is a hidden clause that a minimum balance needs to be maintained over and above the security deposit. Example, if minimum balance needed is 150/- , your fastag balance is 150/- , and the toll is 50, your fastag will not allow you to pass. This is unethical, given that Fastag is prepaid & also there is a pre-collected, non-consumable security deposit of 200-250/-.
There is no clear process on any provider's website on how the security deposit and un-consumed balance money will be returned. upon surrendering the Fastag,